• Tue. Feb 27th, 2024

Lord Frost’s calls for a rightwards shift are ill-informed

ByRoss Doran

Feb 5, 2024
Lord David Frost gives a speech in Lisbon in 2021.12/10/2021. Lisbon, Portugal. Lord Frost, Minister of State, Cabinet Office gives a speech on the Northern Ireland protocol to the diplomatic community in Lisbon. Picture by Dan Edwards / No 10 Downing Street

YouGov have recently published a poll, funded by the Conservative Britain Alliance, which indicates that the Conservative Party would do poorly in an upcoming general election. The poll also suggests that the Party would fare better under a new leader. 

The poll reported that a new Conservative leader would make the best PM when compared to Keir Starmer and Rishi Sunak which Lord Frost has used to question Sunak’s leadership, arguing for more right-wing policies. Yet these are unlikely to be broadly understood conclusions. 

The poll itself is incredibly inconclusive. It asks two questions: who would make the better Prime Minister between Starmer and Sunak, and then between Starmer and an unspecified Conservative leader who adopted the following policies: 

  • A tougher approach on illegal immigrants 
  • Tough on crime 
  • Reduce legal migration
  • Tax cuts for working people 
  • Reduce NHS waiting times 

These are vague policy proposals, the latter of which is simply a question of bureaucratic efficiency (as if Sunak wants high NHS waiting times), while the others are already Sunak’s stated priorities. 

In more or less words, YouGov’s results seem to indicate that the electorate would prefer the Government do its job better on the issues that are its top priorities, a hardly surprising statement. YouGov themselves point out the fact that polling of this kind invites the respondent to impose whatever leadership skills, personality and other policy platforms onto the unspecified leader. Even in this light, a sizeable chunk of respondents are unsure of who would be preferable, with roughly 30% still remaining undecided, hardly providing the condemnation of Sunak’s leadership that Frost so craves, especially in light of the Rwanda bill where Sunak has defied the right of the party. 

What is concerning, however, is the potential influence this might have on Starmer. If Labour is led to believe that right-wing policies are popular, as this poll offers some evidence for, it may set a dangerous precedent for British politics to slide rightwards, a distraction from real economic pressures. Starmer has already proved his willingness to appeal to right-wing sympathies, hailing Thatcher’s legacy in a recent article. Thus, Starmer is beholden to shadow the Conservative Party’s policy positions; if he thinks there are voters to be won, British politics may see a rat race further and further to the right, ignoring ever-worsening living standards for the worst off in society.

Lord Frost Lisbon speech” by UK Government is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.